Manchester Quakers mark 200th anniversary of Peterloo massacre

Friends in Manchester mark 200 years since the Peterloo massacre

Manchester Friends hosted a poetry event last week to mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre, where tens of thousands of people demonstrating for parliamentary reform were charged by calvary.

The T S Eliot prize-winning poet Philip Gross and writer and poet Tania Hershman read out their work to mark the 1819 tragedy, in which eighteen people were killed and more than 650 injured. The violent scenes are depicted in the Quaker Tapestry.

The event on 4 July also commemorated what Manchester Friends describe as ‘one of the most important walls in Britain – the wall on the Bootle Street side of Friends’ Meeting House in Manchester’.

Antony Froggett, co-clerk of Central Manchester Meeting, told the Friend the wall was nicknamed the ‘Democracy Wall’ by historians, ‘because it’s where peaceful pro-democracy protesters were wounded and killed during the massacre, and still bears witness to that event’.

The evening also featured an ‘open mic’ where people could read out their own poems on the themes of walls, division or borders.

The Peterloo massacre is thought to be one of the bloodiest political clashes in British history and caused parliament to crack down on reform. It also led to the foundation of The Manchester Guardian, when John Edward Taylor, a Manchester businessman and witness to the massacre, started his own paper to campaign for reform.

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.